NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been making the media rounds lately, going on podcasts for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports, and ESPN. Topics of discussion have included the Philadelphia 76ers and their unabashed tanking method, a mid-season tournament, and daily fantasy sports.
Most interestingly, though, in my opinion was the comments that Silver made on Zach Lowe's "Lowe Post" podcast. In a discussion about the NBA D-League, Silver discussed ways to raise D-League salaries. One suggestion was to expand NBA rosters by two spots.
We've been talking about two-way contracts. So we'd keep NBA rosters at 15, but maybe in addition to your 15-man roster, you'd have two other slots called your 16 and 17th roster slot, but those would be two-way contracts. They would have different scale than NBA players, so where an NBA minimum is half a million dollars, the D-League contract for those two players could be $80,000 or it could be $100,000. Nobody's gotten specific yet.
When Silver talks about "two-way contracts," what he means is a contract that features two different salaries, one for if the player is playing in the NBA and a separate, lower salary if the player is playing in the D-League. This is similar to what NHL teams do. While I don't understand how adding a 16th and 17th roster slot is "keep[ing] NBA rosters at 15," it's interesting to hear Silver expressing a willingness to add more players to the league, flying in the face of the oft-quoted "talent dilution" myth. So where would these extra players come from? Well, Silver also discussed expanding the NBA Draft to a third round.
This notion of adding additional rounds in the draft [is] very interesting to me because, first from a player standpoint, you'd have potentially another 30 guys or more who are drafted by NBA teams, but then again you'd have this much greater incentive for an NBA team to care about that player and want to develop them and bring them along to play at NBA standard.
I am definitely in favor of teams being able to control their D-League player's contracts more. Ultimately, I would like to see the D-League become a true farm system, where only a parent team can call a player up. This seems like a good step in that direction, however adding more players to an NBA team's roster seems unnecessary. Our own Mike Baker had his own suggestion:
https://t.co/1ktHMKX7qN via @CBSSports - 16th & 17th slots? or @NBA could expand by 2, leave rosters at 15, allow 14th - 15th to be 2-way.— Mike Baker (@TweetMrBaker) December 22, 2015
Considering the league's public refusal to discuss expansion, it's interesting to hear that they are considering an option that would add 60 new players to the league. With negotiations ongoing between the league and the Players Union, one would have to wonder if this is a negotiating tactic. If so, what does the NBAPA think about this idea? While the Union would surely like 60 new jobs, would they rather have them be league-minimum, end-of-the-bench types, or would they rather spread them out and add two to four more max contracts? Are the owners really interested in paying two more players who will most likely see very little, if any, playing time? Either way, it's a change in direction for the league, and could evolve into other ideas, possibly even expansion. We'll have to wait and see, but Adam Silver has shown no fear in shaking things up during his short tenure as Commissioner.